Goblet of Fire, a look at Harry Potter and Latin

Tonight I went out with my family and saw Harry Potter at the local IMAX. Yes, we are lucky enough to live in an area with an IMAX no more than twenty minutes away. But that is not my point. I’m sure there are millions of reviews of the movie so I’ll leave such things to those better qualified. No this post is simply going to be about a single observation while watching the movie.
An observation which as a classical civilizations and Latin major I am qualified to make. I know something other than mere uneducated opinion?! It’s not as rare on the internet as you think.

In J.K. Rowling’s magical world magic seems to simple be a matter of inherent ability (genetic determination), a wand and a dead language. Not just any dead language though. No, the wizards that teach at Hogwarts and exist in the shadowy parts of the Muggle world all use Latin when they need to work their craft. This raises some interesting questions… Where the Latin people the first magic users? Was it their language that gave them the power? If so when did it become a genetic trait that? Was there no magic in the world until Latin evolved? What about it’s parent languages? Were they semi-magical?

In parts of the world where the Romans never went and Latin was never spoken was magic also absent? No Chinese wizards? No Aztec witches? Harry Potter is only a fictional character in a fictional world but the use of Latin as the language raises two points. The first is the mystic relationship westerners have today with the language. Anything sounds better in Latin and people who know it are automatically assumed to better in some sense the those who don’t. Secondly, and more pernicious is the eurocentric no, anglocentric view of the the books. Being optimistic I’m going to say that Rowling was acting unconsciously. Unaware that biases and prejudices she didn’t know she possessed were creeping into her novels. The entire book looks no further than the borders of Great Britain. With the control and government of the magical world to be a wholly British affair.

Giving in to Strangers

Why is it so easy for us to unburden ourselves to strangers? A conversation on a plane or train will lead to a heart to heart conversation with the person beside you, who you have known for only the extent of the trip. Afterwards you both walk away from the encounter never to see each other again but holding the deep secrets of the other in your palm. Yet your family does not know, nor your spouse or significant other. These strangers hold secrets you won’t tell, couldn’t tell them.

But, why?

I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist. I haven’t even had the “pleasure” of taking any psych classes here at UCD. My sole qualifications for my following comments are the ones we all have. I am human and I’ve dealt with the same issue. I’m seeing a therapist. Which is the same thing except now one of the strangers is getting paid. So without further ado my non-scientific theory. Fear. That is the sum of it. The stranger cannot hurt you or reject you. The stranger because he/she is alien to you and your social network has no bearing on it. It is just a person listening. This is not the same with family, friends or lovers. These are people who are deeply involved with you, connections that have roots deep within your emotional center. The consequences of their rejection or anger or even dismissal is equal to a rejection/dismissal of you.
No wonder we are such adept liars, or deceivers. It stems not from a poor character but from a sensitive one, one afraid of losing the small good that it has. An insecure soul who sees the shortcomings of itself in such a distorted sense that they will always outweigh the love and acceptance of those most important to it.

I wish I had an answer to these souls. Some easy trick or exercise which would allow them to shed their insecurities and enjoy the relationships they have with renewed vigor and strength, which can come from open honest communication. Regardless of the content of that communication. There is no simple pill though. Only the painful process of opening yourself to pain and rejection in order to find that love and acceptance.

The best of luck to all of us, and remember at some point we all will be the one looking for it.

The thin line between Comedy and Crudity

It’s been a while since I’ve watched Family Guy. I saw it today. It wasn’t that funny. Mostly because clever jokes and situations had been replaced by scatilogical humor and crude language. This seems to be a trend in comedy. Comedians have run out of things to say or joke about so they simply yell and bitch covering up their lack of talent with a never ceasing flow of obscenities.

I loved Lewis Black, his angry satirical black humor is right up my alley. I’ve seen all of his specials on Comedy Central. When Last year when I found out he was performing locally I rushed over to ticketmaster.com and bought one. I spent the next month in eager anticipation for his show. You can not know my disappointment when not more than a minute into the show Mr. Black began to lace his commentary and comedy with 4 letter words. My complaint isn’t with language, I’m no saint. But in comedy it seems to be the end result of intellectual laziness.

Looking over the Rainbow

I fancy myself a writer. Well a potential writer. Actually I want to be a writer and I want to write.

That’s close enough to the truth. The problem has been inspiration. I haven’t felt very creative recently. Recently means in the last eight or nine months. Yup, it has been hard for me to get the old noggin’ producing anything more than short poems. That isn’t a good sign. This blog exist partially as a result of this dry spell. I needed a place to practice writing, even when I don’t have anything to say.

Working at Borders I see a lot of books, duh. My store has a section on writing. It includes books on plot, character names, finding an agent, getting publish, constructing story arches. All sorts of reference material. Just about anything you can name or guess that is related to the field of writing and publishing, a book exists on it and my store carries it or can have it for you in five to seven days. I’ve been tempted at times to buy some of these books, in the hopes that their authors have some how distilled the essence of best selling novel writing techniques and methods into 100 or 200 pages. But then I shake my head, laugh a little to myself and realize that there is no formula and that these people are writing these books to makes some money off of me and besides where are their New York Times best seller list novel? Half the authors of these books I’ve never heard of and searches on the database at work show that they’ve only ever written books for the “how to write” market.

So what do I do to get back into the groove? Does anyone out there have any ideas? Maybe I should post the question to Metafilter and see if I can get some answers… That’s a great idea and if I do I can post them here! Even better I can do a search of Ask Metafilter and find this! I could search for more but I should read this over first… It seems persistence is the key, damn no quick and easy here either, oh well I guess that makes it similar to everything else.